Walking through the soulful streets of Korba, Heliopolis – a hotspot for lively cafes, restaurants, and bakeries – one place stands out above the rest.
With its bright red signage, overhanging plants, and consistent stream of customers, Bouchée brings bounce and energy to the area, attracting customers from across Cairo, from 6 October in the west to New Cairo in the east.
A resident of New Cairo myself, I wanted to go see what the fanfare was all about. In reality, my plan had been to drop by, try a variety of items, and silently begin the review process. This changed upon seeing Habiba Darwish: the youthful, part-owner who helps run day-to-day operations at Bouchée alongside a spirited staff.
The shop, a mix between a patisserie and a cafe, opened in February 2022 – the product of a next-generation family business. Bouchée itself was the brainchild of Darwish’s father, who, along with his brothers, boast decades of experience in the restaurant and café industry.
“My dad was always a fan of the Parisian style of cuisine – the intricate dessert presentation, the bakeries, desserts, and the relaxing atmosphere,” Darwish explains. “Then one day he decided to travel to Europe and learn how to make desserts there.”
These trips took him to culinary schools in Spain, France, and Italy – learning hubs for any aspiring confectioner. His children and nephews followed suit, pursuing similar classes, and, eventually, opening Bouchée.
Darwish’s father may have conceptualized the idea, but it is the youth that lead the business – an ever-enduring story of one generation passing the baton to the next.
As inspiring as Bouchée’s tale was, I couldn’t help but worry: what if the food did not match the quality of the backstory? Still, the place was boisterous, with seats never empty.
While I consider myself an outdoorsman, the Cairo sun made it impossible to survive outside, and Bouchée’s air-conditioned interior was a safe haven from the heat. In hindsight, however, an awning or umbrella could have served as an excellent source of shade for the outdoor seating.
Sitting inside now, with an increasingly hunger-cramped stomach, I started off my breakfast with the store’s custom sandwich option. With a little help from Darwish, I opted for a focaccia turkey and cheese sandwich, topped with some arugula and not-so-spicy spicy mayonnaise.
Within minutes, the chef had it ready and set on my table. The focaccia bread was a soft delight, with olives and cherry tomatoes baked into it, adding zest and flavor. While not a fan of overly-saucy sandwiches, I was quite pleased to see they didn’t overindulge in the mayonnaise. The turkey itself was delicious, and I could not have been happier with how my stomach was starting off its day.
A spontaneous work call helped inspire my next order, a refreshing Iced Spanish Latte – a popular drink that is not actually Spanish in origin but rather more similar to Vietnamese coffee or Karak, as it is also made with sweetened condensed milk – made with strong Colombian coffee beans. This also gave me a good excuse to finally try the outdoor seating, since a cold drink would help me conduct my call outside and away from the lively noise inside.
Back indoors it was time to end the experience with one of Bouchée’s iconic pastries. The pastry display in and of itself was overwhelming. Each dessert is designed and presented in a manner similar to framed artwork: intricate, and perfectly situated.
Darwish, while showing me the abundance of pastry options, proudly mentions how her brother is the Head of Pastry.
In the end, I opted for the bright white and sharp-looking Exotic Fruit Pavlova, made of Swiss meringue, almond sponge, tropical fruits, and a whipped coconut ganache.
The dessert was artisanal in its presentation and delightful in its taste. Although, halfway through I think it got a bit too sweet for my personal taste. On another day, during a sporadic sweet tooth episode, I would’ve definitely indulged with more gusto.
While eating away the base of the tart, I was starting to worry this review was sounding too positive. Fresh and flavorsome foods, a professional and polite staff, and a clear sign of artisanal craft in work.
I came to the quiet realization that this is simply the level of quality Bouchée operates at – and it cannot be denied. This is what allows the store to stand out despite facing competition from the likes of Paul, The Bakery Shop (TBS), Vasko, and others that conquer street corners just across from Bouchée.
Perhaps the only drawback is the size of the place itself. During the entirety of my time inside, I witnessed a handful of potential customers needing to wait at the door until a table was freed up. Some waited, others did not.
Yet even that is being worked on; Darwish enthusiastically informed me that they’re refurbishing the upper floor for a wider and more comfortable seating arrangement. This features a balcony view of the animated streets of Korba.
“The street right behind Bouchée, this was where dad grew up.” Darwish expresses, “Consequently, our family’s soul lies here – while we may no longer live here, we still frequently gather here as a family.”
That line resonated with me: Bouchée was a place of soul, vibrance, and community, as shown in the delights, the staff, and the experience.
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